Summit High baseball, track-and-field teams reset the season at halfway point
Heading into this season, Summit High School varsity baseball coach Patrick Stehler and the team knew 2019 would be a year of learning. With a young group comprised mainly of sophomores, the first part of the season would include lessons.
Despite the inexperience, if there is one thing Stehler and his coaches are most proud of thus far this season, it’s that the group of Tigers varsity baseball players have maintained a hunger to improve through a 3-12 start to the campaign that has presented its share of chances to learn from challenges.
“Their biggest strength is mentally, I believe,” Stehler said on Tuesday in the middle of a 14-day break in between games, though the team continues to practice. “The work they are putting ahead toward it, the way they identify with each other as a family, that’s the biggest strength of the team.”
The Tigers varsity baseball team is one without captains, though that doesn’t mean the team is void of focus, commitment or leadership — far from it. Leading the way has been junior Koa Rashidi. Stehler said Rashidi has helped to command the team throughout the field from behind the plate at the catcher position, the kind of player who is calmly in control. And, of course, as a catcher, Rashidi has proved vital in helping the Tigers’ young pitching rotation come along.
“He’s doing a good job calming them down,” Stehler said, “to remain hungry, to fill up the strike zone, to keep working, keep improving.”
When stepping up to the plate, Rashidi also has 17 hits in 40 plate appearances this season including five RBIs, seven doubles and a triple.
In terms of offense, one of those talented sophomores Stehler referenced, infielder Foster Kruger, has consistently provided timely hitting for the Tigers. Speaking of the Tigers’ three wins on the season, Stehler credited Summit’s penchant to exhibit a fighting mentality through all seven innings to their ability to weather tough moments and rally. Those rallies included a walk-off hit by Kruger in Summit’s 7-6 win over Eagle Valley on April 5.
“With the swing that he has, with everything we are trying to teach, he goes ahead and acts on it immediately,” Stehler said of Kruger. “There is less of a learning curve with him than a lot of the other players. He fights off pitches, works deep into counts, draws walks.”
On the mound, along with Rashidi spending some time pitching, Summit has leaned on sophomores Pavel Bernlohr and Riley Cibula to deal often.
“What they bring to the table,” Stehler said, “is they throw strikes, get ahead in counts, throw breaking balls to keep batters off balance, and pitch to get the ball in play.”
As the team is young and still growing into its own, Stehler is confident the attention to detail will, over time, combine with more of the physical aspects of baseball.
“Aside from that,” Stehler said, “the knowing and understanding of the game and the fact that they are such a tight-knit group, everything is kind of where we want to see it right now as a coaching staff.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Stehler said the team’s main focus is to continue to cut down on their mental mistakes and to continue to vie to outwork the other team, no matter who the opponent is.
The Tigers will next return to the diamond to take on Hinkley, a team they defeated 14-13 earlier this season, on the road on April 25 at 5 p.m. Then, on May 1, the current plan is for the Tigers to host their sole home doubleheader of the season at the Frisco Peninsula Field, though that is subject to change due to weather and remaining snow.
Track and field
Much like every other Summit High School spring sports team, the start to the 2019 season for the Tigers track-and-field program proved difficult due to March and April’s lingering, wet winter weather.
The weather canceled the Tigers’ most recently scheduled event, the Don Osse Meet at JeffCo Stadium, scheduled for April 11. Tigers track-and-field coach Kristy McClain said she thinks the team has taken the weather hiccups in stride, as Summit has achieved several personal records and top placements at meets through the first half of the season.
“Recently, we’ve been able to get out a little bit more,” McClain said. “It’s pretty common at the beginning of the year to have to practice inside.”
McClain has been aided this season by 2017 Summit High graduate Eric Robinson, who has helped coach the Tigers jumpers. McClain, Robinson and Tigers senior captains Chris Rohlf, Armando Sanchez, Noelle Resgnolo and Madi Hirsh have led the Tigers through the first four meets of the season.
“They’ve just been invaluable helping the team become cohesive and making sure everyone is part of the team,” McClain said of the captains.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the Tigers will next compete at the Rangeview Twilight Meet in Aurora Stadium at 3 p.m. on April 25 before the Western Slope League Meet in Grand Junction’s Stocker Stadium on May 3 and 4.
“We have a lot of kids who I think have the potential to place highly out at the league meets,” McClain said. “Hopefully Noelle will be able to advance again to the state meet. We hope she makes it three times before she graduates. We have some younger kids, some pretty strong relays, we are looking forward to seeing how those events play out, how relays play out during league meet. Hopefully we’ll get stronger and stronger in advance of the state meet.”
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